Cover Story : The World’s Biggest Banks 2005

Global Finance ranks the worlds 50 biggest banks, as measured by total assets.

If there was any doubt that the worlds top banks have been thriving for the past year, the Global Finance listing of the worlds biggest banks should dispel it once and for all. Total assets held by just the top 10 banks has mushroomed to more than $12.6 trillion from last years $10.6 trillion. The numbers might not look so stunning, but thats an additional $2,000 billion scooped up by just 10 banks. More remarkable, the total for the top 50 has grown by almost a quarter from last years $31 trillion to a hair under $38 trillion this year.

The growth in the assets held by the worlds banking titans has been anything but even, though, and, as a result, the top of the list has been transformed. With a massive 36% jump in assets to more than $1.5 trillion, Switzerlands UBS has leapfrogged second-place Citigroup to adopt its mantle as the worlds biggest bank. The contrast with last years table-topper, Japans Mizuho Financial Group, could hardly be starker. The Japanese group added only $10 billion to its $1 trillion-plus stash and, not surprisingly, slipped to third place. Citigroup, despite suffering a difficult year in some markets and businesses, grew its assets by a respectable $220 billion to almost $1.5 trillion.

In other big changes, Deutsche Banks slide continues this year with a fall from fifth place to ninth, and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group skidded from seventh to 14th despite adding to its assets held. Its countrymate Sumitomo Mitsui saw its assets falland its ranking slipped accordingly, from 10th to 17th.

Dan Keeler